Glen Onoko: Another Snowy Hike Along The Lehigh River

There was still a lot of snow on the ground last Sunday, and, since I don’t like cross country skies or snow shoes, I decided to again  hike the compacted snow left by  the snowmobiles  on the D & L Trail, this time at Glen Onoko.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -1

I arrived at the trail under mostly  clear blue skies and the strong March sun. The temperatures were more like Alaska than Northeastern Pennsylvania in March, a frigid 12 degrees when I began my hike.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -2

I encountered another photographer on my walk and we had a nice chat about the trail and the surrounding area and it’s history .Lehigh River Glen Onoko -7

As we walked along the still active railroad tracks into the gorge we  ran into these dog sledding enthusiasts, making me again feel like I was in Alaska.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -1

We we treated to this interesting situation of what happens when two dog sled teams cross paths. It seemed the dogs had to stop and socialize a bit, much to the frustration of their owners. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -5

My new photographer friend stayed to photographs the dog sled teams and I continued my hike  along the gorge. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -2

I encountered a few folks on snow mobiles along the way, a cross country skier and one dedicated woman running in the snow. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -27

I hike along the winding Lehigh River as it flowed through the mountains, as it did for thousands of years, creating the steep cliffs of the gorge. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -21

It is truly a beautiful place to hike, any time of the year , yes even with 20 inches of snow on the ground, and frigid temperatures. You just got to dress warm. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -33

I hiked past the Pioneer Oil Pipe line. I did a blog post on the interesting history of this pipeline, one of the first in the country. It can be found in the archives. I believe it now carries fiber optic cables. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -22

The March sun was higher in the sky now and it began to melt the top layers of the snow, causing me to break through the top compacted layer created by the snow mobiles and making walking difficult. And it was a long walk back.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -38

 The exhausting walks required a few rests along the way, which wasn’t a bad thing. I love listening to the flow of the river. Here is a link to a video I uploaded YouTubeLehigh River Glen Onoko -35

I saw little wild life on my hike, no bears, Lehigh River Glen Onoko -6

but a few birdsLehigh River Glen Onoko -29

including a few  turkey vultures soaring overhead. Lehigh River Glen Onoko -30

And even a few insects, a sure sign of spring.Lehigh River Glen Onoko -39

It was a cold and tiring hike but well worth the effort to once again enjoy the beauty that surrounds us here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Hopefully the rain, and warmer temperatures  forecast for this weekend will melt the snow and make walking a bit easier. Sorry,  to my dog sledding and snowmobiling friends, but it’s time for Spring! Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. River Glen Onoko -11

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says ‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.’”
―Lewis Carroll


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It’s Sure Not Looking Like Spring In The Lehigh River Gorge

I knew my hiking options would be limited this weekend. We still have around 20 inches of snow on the ground here in Northeastern Pennsylvania,  a gift from the late season snow storm named Stella. And it was snowing again this morning!  I decided to hike the D & L trail in the Lehigh River Gorge State Park at the entrance near the little town of Rockport. Lehigh gorge -1

I chose this trail since it allows snowmobiles.  These recreational vehicles compact the deep snow cover. making for easier hiking. I was hoping there was at least one snowmobile enthusiast out on the trail since the storm.  I knew it would be hard walking in the  snow when I saw these two deer having a hard  time getting around in the snow drifts. Lehigh gorge -2

I made it down the steep road to the parking area along the Lehigh River and found two other automobiles so I wasn’t the only one down here like I was a few weeks ago. Lehigh gorge -4

I was relieved to find that there were snowmobile tracks on the trails and I began my hike by heading  eastward on the trail.Lehigh gorge -9

I found there were more ice formations on the cliffs along the river today than there were in January. Lehigh gorge -11

After about a quarter mile I came to Buttermilk Falls which was not frozen and had much more water cascading down it’s cliffs than my last visit. Lehigh gorge -15

I walked past a couple walking their dog and didn’t see another person  for the next three miles. There also wasn’t much wildlife out either. I saw a small hawk darting in and out of the threes along the gorge, a few nuthatches, black-capped chickadees and this woodpecker. i wasn’t sure if it was a downy or hairy. Lehigh gorge -22

I enjoyed listening to the roar of the river below the trail that followed the old railroad right of way. I walked by the ruins of the old locks that were part of the Lehigh Canal but I didn’t venture off the trail to explore them, as I always do, because of the deep snow. Lehigh gorge -27

I walked out about 3 miles, to Mud Run, where it flows into the Lehigh and the exhibits on the Mud Run train disaster that occurred near here in 1880. I did a blog post on the massacre and it can be found in the archives of my blog. Lehigh gorge -33

I decided to leave the compacted snow of the trail and venture down to the Lehigh River. It wasn’t easy. The snow was up to my knees, and even higher in some drifts. But the walk was worth it. Lehigh gorge -35

I  always enjoy sitting next to water, whether it is a pond, lake creek, river or ocean. Today I had to sit on a wet rock but i still enjoyed the view, and the sound of the flowing water. Lehigh gorge -39

As some of you who read my blog on a regular basis may know,  I love trains and I was rewarded for my efforts to get down to the river when I heard an approaching train. I watched the locomotive pass, the engineer honked his horn at me, followed by almost 100 tankers. Here is a video I posted on my YouTube channel. Gorge rockport 114

After the train passed I trudged back up to the trail and finally saw two persons riding their snow mobiles on the trail. Lehigh Gorge rockport 131

Even with the snow being compacted from the snowmobiles it  wasn’t easy walking, there being an inch or two of lose snow atop the compacted snow. It was a long  and exhausting walk back. I am still sore as I type this. Lehigh gorge -29

Still it was nice to get out and enjoy the beauty of the aftermath of the storm. Lehigh gorge -18

At least the snow had stopped and the temperatures were not too bad, staying  near the freezing mark.  Evidence of this would be the leaves of the many rhododendron  growing along the trail. In frigid temperatures their leaves curl up but not today.Lehigh gorge -21

I passed another couple on snowshoes before I arrived at me car. So this time I was not alone in the gorge, like my last visit, there were seven other people out enjoying the beauty of the Lehigh River. Hopefully, this blog may encourage some other folks to head out in  snow, and enjoy, what I am hoping is the last winter storm for at least another year. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike . gorge -26

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.” Norman Maclean,

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March Madness In Northeastern Pennsylvania. A Record Breaking Snow Storm.

For those of you following my blog, you have been reading the reports in my posts on how mild the winter was here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this year . That changed when  arctic cold plunged into our area last weekend.  And we got a real taste of Winter with a record breaking snowfall this past week.blizzard walk-22

The snow storm began in the early hours on Tuesday morning. When I awoke and went for my morning walk. there was were about six inches of snow on the ground. I will have to admit, that, while not easy walking the snow covered roads, it did look pretty.  I didn’t have my camera on that first walk but, later in the day, around noon, I did venture out again, this time with my camera. I now  found almost 15 inches of snow on the ground. blizzard walk-37

The roads were not yet plowed because of the intensity of the falling snow and so I struggled along following the tire tracks of the few brave cars that ventured out in the storm Walking was not easy. . blizzard walk Marh 15 morning -1

I took my usual route  past my mom’s house,  on, appropriately named, Winter’s Avenue, past the large drifts of snow covering cars and most everything else in a blanket of white. blizzard walk-15

I walked past Kresock’s hill which, when I was a child would have been covered with youngsters sledding down it’s steep incline.blizzard walk-17

I had a hard time walking on the un-plowed road and decided to head home when I reached the Mountain View cemetery.blizzard walk-33

The snow was still falling at the rate of  an inch an hour so not many folks were out shoveling or snow blowing. But there were a few brave souls  challenging the storm and getting an early start on the unwelcome task of snow removal . Here is a link to some more photographs from my second walk the first day of the storm. walk-30

I made it home and spent the rest of the afternoon  watching the snow fall and photographing the many birds that showed up at my feeders and on my deck. Please check out my previous posts for some more photographs and comments about  the birds. Here is a link to the photographs. birds -10

The snow finally let up later in the afternoon, leaving a little over of 20 inches on the ground, an all time one day snowfall record. I took another walk to see how the storm impacted the neighborhood. blizzard walk Marh 14 afternoon -20

This time, with the main roads having been plowed, it was much easier walking. I also found a lot more folks out shoveling or snow blowing their sidewalks and driveways and shoveling their cars out of the snow drifts. blizzard walk Marh 14 afternoon -3

I walked up to the main street in West Hazleton, Broad Street, and found it to be passable but those who ventured out were driving slowly .blizzard walk Marh 14 afternoon -13

I made my way back, walking into the  northeasterly, and cold,  wind, which meant the storm was ending and  that there would be a lot of drifting overnight. Here is a link to some more photographs from my afternoon walk. walk Marh 14 afternoon -28

The next morning I awoke a snow covered and cloud shrouded world as I took my daily morning walk. blizzard walk Marh 15 morning -2

The roads were plowed and, for the most part passable, but still did not provide for not the best of driving, or walking  conditions. The schools and many businesses were closed. blizzard walk Marh 15 morning -11

Most of the cars were still covered under drifts of snow. blizzard walk Marh 15 morning -12

I again walked up to Broad Street and, although the roads were passable there were still some spots that drifted over with snow and hard to get through.blizzard walk Marh 15 morning -18

Snow removal was going to be difficult because of the strong winds, and frigid temperatures. It was 12 degrees when I left on my walk. I found my office was still not shoveled out.blizzard walk Marh 15 morning -22

I walked home, into the wind, chatting with some of the folks digging out from the storm. I learned when I returned home that there was a state of emergency declared and we decided to close out office for the day. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk. walk Marh 15 morning -17

I sat and again watched the birds that visited my feeder and my nephew Mikey who came over and did  a good job snow blowing my drive way. I wasn’t going to sit in the house all day, and after checking out my office and having lunch with my nephew Charlie I again went out for an afternoon  walk  to see how the community was digging out form the storm. afternoon walk -25

A lot of people were still waiting for the local municipalities to finish up the difficult task of plowing and opening up main streets before they began shoveling out their own houses and automobiles. afternoon walk -19

Some youngsters were taking advantage of the snowy conditions to use their recreational quads to help plow the snow. blizzard walk Marh 14 afternoon -8

As I walked through the snow covered streets, observing how nature, with one storm, could upset our well organized modern lives.  I realized how insignificant we really our, as short term visitors on this beautiful planet we live.  blizzard walk-6

I returned home, after having been inconvenienced for two days, with an even deeper appreciation for the beauty of nature, even when it is at it’s worst. Still, I looked forward to the approaching Spring and the warm weather it will bring.  And this welcome sight assured me, that despite this setback, and return of Winter, the days of cold and snow are ending, Spring is almost here!  Here is a link to some more photographs from my afternoon hike.

afternoon walk -3


“The snow doesn’t give a soft white damn whom it touches.”
E.E. Cummings











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Greater Hazleton Rails To Trails: A Solitary, And Frigid, March Hike.

As predicted, it was another frigid morning here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. A calm and sunny  eleven degrees when I woke up, an hour later than usual because of Daylight Saving Time. I planned on a shorter hike today, because of the cold and snow, and the long hike I took yesterday. So I decided to stay close to home and hike out our local Rails to Trails. Rails to Trails -3

I arrived to find the parking lot empty. Usually,  even on the coldest of days, there are some hardy folks walking the trail. Not today. I could tell there were a lot of folks out yesterday, from the tracks on the trail but not a person today.Rails to Trails -4

I walked the trail, following an  old railroad right of way, eastward, through the mixed forest of pine, oak and maple trees, in the cold morning air. Thankfully, there was not much of a wind, like there was yesterday. Rails to Trails -7

The snow was not too deep, about 4 to 6 inches, but still deep enough to make walking difficult as I made my way to the second prong of the trail, about a mile out. Rails to Trails -16

As I crossed the highway that separates the trail, I found only one set of footprints in the snow, and they soon ended making me the first person to hike out here since the recent snowfall. Rails to Trails -17

And I say person, since like yesterday, there was plenty of evidence that there were animals roaming in the surrounding woods, occasionally crossing the trail. These are one of many deer tracks that crisscrossed the trail.Rails to Trails -20

And there were other tracks too,  these, I think are a coyote, probably trailing the deer.  I followed them for almost a mile, re-enacting the activities of the coyote as it walked in and out of the woods, searching for a meal. Here, it appears to have found something worth investigating under the snow, probably a vole, mouse or other rodent.Rails to Trails -33

There were few birds or animals to be seen in the frigid air but I did see a few Canada geese on the ice free waters of the Dreck Creek reservoir.Rails to Trails -31

And more signs of some other critters still live in these woods, like this hole which was carved out of the tree by a woodpecker.Rails to Trails -8

I walked on, past the picnic area near the Dreck Creek Reservoir dam and found the snow angel made by either either a  snow and cold   loving,  or, possibly, a crazy person. Hmmm,  I wonder who that could be? Rails to Trails -37

I was going to turn around at the 3 mile mark on the trail, but, I heard, and then saw, a red tailed hawk fly overhead, to fast for me to get a photograph. Rails to Trails -41

I walked a few hundred more yards, in hopes of seeing the hawk, but with no luck. It looked like it was headed to these hills in the distance. If there was no snow on the ground and the temperatures warmer I may have hiked on to try and find it. But I was cold and tired so decided, reluctantly, to head back. Rails to Trails -44

Along the way back  the only living thing I encountered were a few dark eyed juncos hopping on the ground and fluttering in the shrubs as I passed. Rails to Trails -45

I continued my  peaceful and solitary hike back, and didn’t encounter one person on the trail , until, as  I neared the parking area,  I saw one brave sole running through the icy and snow covered trails. Rails to Trails -50

And I finally saw some animals, these  two bears, but, unfortunately, they weren’t real. Rails to Trails -1

I also  saw this sure sign of Spring, which I spotted when I started my hike, a pussy willow shrub beginning to bud.  It may be cold, and we have another big snow storm in our forecast, but there is reason to hope, Spring is only a week away, and it will arrive on time, it always does. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today. to Trails -6



“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” — Sir Rannulph Fiennes

Rails to Trails -14






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Back To Winter: A Frigid Hike Out To The Penrose Reservoir

There are  only a few days until Spring arrives , but, after months  of above average weather,  Winter has returned with a vengeance to Northeastern Pennsylvania.  We had  almost a half a foot of snow yesterday and some of the coldest temperatures of the season here this morning. Not good walking conditions, especially in March. . I decided to head  to the Lehigh River Gorge, where I hoped I would be sheltered from the  arctic winds, and I could hike through the snow  on the  trails left by the snowmobiles.Penrose reservoir -54

 However, as I drove through the Borough of Weatherly I thought of the Penrose Reservoir.  and  I decided to see if any water birds have returned to the area.  I have hiked here often, and have seen herons, ducks, geese and an American Bittern on the reservoir. I was hoping that, despite the arctic cold, the warm weather of the past few weeks would have brought some of them back early. So I began my hike to the reservoir on the railroad tracks in Weatherly.Penrose reservoir -3

The newly fallen snow was dry and powdery so it was a little easier hiking  than I had anticipated.Penrose reservoir -6

It was cold  but the snow made for some nice scenes, covering the rocks and trees along the rails. Penrose reservoir -2

I didn’t see and birds or other animals along the tracks but, they were there, as could be seen from the tracks they left behind in the snow, icluding these deer tracks. Penrose reservoir -8

I walked upward through the snow covered trees along the Black Creek which flow along the railroad  tracks follow and came to the bridge over the creek at the old Hazle Creek  railroad junction Penrose reservoir -25


This junction is where the Beaver Meadows, Buck Mountain and  Hazleton (later to become the Lehigh) railroads met and played a significant role in the local coal mining history. There are a few of my  posts, which can be found in the archives section of my blog, about this history. Penrose reservoir -24

It is about two miles to Hazle Junction and another half mile to the reservoir. I was surprised to find the reservoir was mostly ice free. I thought that. despite the warm weather we have had, there would still be some thick ice in the center of the reservoir. Not this year. I was  disappointed that there were no birds on the open waters. I really thought their at least would be some Canada geese and mallard ducks on the water. Penrose reservoir -28

It was mostly cloudy when I began my walk but the sun began to break through the clouds and reflect off the snow. and the new ice forming on the northern  side of the reservoir. Penrose reservoir -29

It was cold and I was tired from trudging through the snow so I decided to walk back. However, the discovery of what, I believed were fresh  coyote tracks, had me following them along the old Buck Mountain railroad right of way., hoping to find the animal that made them. Penrose reservoir -39

I walked along the old railroad right of way, which passed through a thick growth of rhododendrons, which covered in the new snow reminded me of a scene from Dr. Zhivago. Penrose reservoir -40

I have seen many animals in this area over the past few years, including deer, many birds and a few bear. Not today. Nothing was moving in this cold, except a dumb old guy. Penrose reservoir -42

I  followed the coyote  tracks into this wetlands, where again I have seen many mallard ducks nest in the spring. But nothing. Penrose reservoir -45

And this pond, which one year a Canada goose found to be a good place to build a nest pretty much out in the open, was covered in ice and not a critter of any type was stirring in the cold. Penrose reservoir -44

I made my way back out to the railroad tracks. , getting a neck and back full of snow as I walked through and under the thick growth of hemlock trees and rhododendrons.Penrose reservoir -46

The  strong mid March sun was now out, melting the top layer of the snow and making walking even more difficult. But it’s warmth sure felt good. Penrose reservoir -36

I returned to my car parked in the rustic town of Weatherly, tired, cold and without seeing any wildlife, but still very glad to have enjoyed another day, be it a snowy and frigid one, in the great outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania. I am looking forward to more mild walks as Spring approaches but it won’t be for at least a week.  And as I neared my car I saw this critter, who I am sure agrees with me. More arctic weather and a possible snowstorm headed our way. But Spring will return, and it will be welcomed. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike.

Penrose reservoir -53


There’s just something beautiful about walking in snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special.   Carol Rifka Brunt



























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More Winter Weather, And A Bald Eagle, At The PPL Wetlands.

It was cold last weekend here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and even colder today, with the arrival of an arctic cold front yesterday. Temperatures dropped into the low teens this morning.  I decided, as I often do,  to again hike in the PPL Wetlands. As I drove the approximately 25 miles,  and neared the wetlands in Salem township, I spotted a bald eagle perched in a tree along the Susquehanna River. .PPL Wetlands -2

I pulled my car over to the side of the road and got the best photographs I could through the tree limbs. After about five minutes he or she decided to take to the cold skies, probably in search of a late breakfast or early lunch.  It wasn’t my closest encounter with an eagle but it still was, as it always is, a great experience. I am so glad the regal birds are making such a big comeback in our area. PPL Wetlands -8

It was mostly cloudy and cold  when I arrived at the wetlands and very little wildlife was up and about. The turtles, frogs and snakes that were making an early appearance during the unseasonably warm weather we had a few weeks ago were no were to be found. PPL Wetlands -8

I was also surprised with the absence of the usual birds that are common in the wetlands, the black-capped chickadees, juncos, and nuthatches. This is the second week I haven’t seen any on my hikes. I did see this flicker, also a year round resident in these parts,  perched  in a tree.PPL Wetlands -9

The flooding that occurred last week after the severe thunderstorms had subsided. This path was under water last week. PPL Wetlands -9

I walked along the canals which were mostly still ice free although  there was a new thin layer of ice forming in spots. It will get thicker tonight when temperatures are expected to drop to near zero. PPL Wetlands -13

I was surprised to find these mushrooms sprouting aside a dead tree. I usually find them growing in late April or early May. PPL Wetlands -3

There  were other signs of Spring too like the skunk cabbages now sprouting throughout the wetlands. PPL Wetlands -11

Many of the maple trees were displaying the first buds of the season. It won’t be long until more species of trees join them.PPL Wetlands -22

And I also found a flock of robins, another sure sign Winter is just about over. PPL Wetlands wildlife -3

I walked out to the river lands section of the preserve and again found this pair of common mergansers on Lake Took-A-While. PPL Wetlands -13

Near by where this flock of Canada geese. It looks like both of these  species of water fowl will be nesting in the wetlands this year. i hope they are soon joined by many more of their feathered friends. Here is a link to some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. Wetlands -15

As I began my return hike I found yet another sign of the early arrival of Spring, these first leaves sprouting  on an elderberry bush. PPL Wetlands -17

I made my way along the Susquehanna River, which still was very high from the recent rain and melting snow up river. PPL Wetlands -31

I love walking under the ancient trees that grow along the river, and as I have said many time in previous blog posts, I often think of the many  generations of Native Americans who would walk  these same  paths along  the Warrior Trail.PPL Wetlands -30

It was a different world back then. They say a squirrel could jump from tree to tree from the Atlantic ocean to the Mississippi River without touching the ground because of the dense forest that covered our country. PPL Wetlands -29

As I walked along the river I saw plenty of green plants starting their late Winter growth. it is always good to see the first green leaves of the new year. It was frigid yesterday but the sun was strong and I knew that there would be even more signs of Spring when I visited again. Winter can’t last forever. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Wetlands -16


“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations




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Back To Winter At The PPL Wetlands

After a record setting week of warm temperatures,  more seasonable cold weather returned to Northeastern Pennsylvania today. I decided to see if the recent warm weather brought some early migrating water fowl to the PPL Wetlands. PPL Wetlands-9

I arrived under cloudy skies, temperatures in the upper 20’s and with  a few  passing snow showers.  I found the canals and ponds totally ice free and flooded from the heavy thunderstorms, and even a few tornadoes, that brought the cold air back to our area. Some of the paths were impassable from the overflowing ponds and canals. PPL Wetlands-5

I was surprised how quiet it was on my first mile walking in the wetlands. I did not see any wildlife and heard only a few crows in the distance. I thought there would be a number of species of migrating water fowl staying in the area after the storms yesterday. But not a one. PPL Wetlands-12

I walked over to the  adjoining river lands, not seeing any of the year long resident birds nor any squirrels, chipmunks or deer. I did see some of the effects of the recent warm weather. Plenty of green early plants pushing through the muddy soil.PPL Wetlands-2

And the skunk cabbages were now popping up throughout the wetlands, a few weeks earlier than usual. Just two years ago we had a week of cold weather with sub-zero temperatures.  There was no vegetation to be found for at least two more weeks that year. What a difference this year. PPL Wetlands-37

As I walked along the flooded swamps and wetlands I was greeted by the familiar sound of this common summer bird in the wet-lands. The red-winged blackbird. I was surprised since there were only two of them and they usually migrate in large flocks in the spring. PPL Wetlands-10

I continued onward to Lake Took-A-While where I found three common mergansers on the water. I watched these beautiful birds, shown below and above,  for awhile when I heard the sound of a large flock of birds in the distance. PPL Wetlands-18

I soon realized why I  had seen the two red-winged blackbirds earlier. They were  probably part of this  massive flock of red-winged blackbirds I saw roosting in the trees at the edge of a corn field. I uploaded a video of the flock to my You tube channel. You can see it by clicking on the red highlighted link above. And here is another as they moved to the corn fields.  This was one of the largest flocks I hve seen and they arrived much earlier then usual, PPL Wetlands-11

I soon saw another sign of Spring,  a robin, although many of  these birds stay here in the wetlands near the river year round. It was still nice to see one. PPL Wetlands-21

I also saw a few Canada geese on the lake, but not as many as I had anticipated. I am sure more will be joining them in the next few weeks, looking for an isolated corner of the wetlands to build their nest and lay their eggs. PPL Wetlands-25

While watching the geese I saw this bird flying low over the water. I  have been seeing it for a few months now but this was the first time  I was able to get a photograph. I am pretty sure it is a kingfisher. PPL Wetlands-27

I made my way back to the wetlands, and again noticed the absence of the usual winter birds, the juncos. nuthatches and black capped chickadees. I am not sure why they weren’t around today but I did see this song sparrow along the way. Hopefully they will return next visit, and will be joined by the returning song birds. PPL Wetlands-30

I walked along the Susquehanna River which was also ice free and which now filled it[s banks from the melting snow up river as well as the thunderstorms we had yesterday. PPL Wetlands-35

As I neared my car, the sun broke through the clouds, and, warmed the air enough to awaken another sign of spring. the spring peepers. I love the sound of these tiny frogs in early Spring. There were only a few, and this is the first time i heard them in February. Most years the starting peeping in late March or early April. Here is a link to another video I uploaded to YouTube.       PPL Wetlands-33

You can also hear  some birds, whose song I cant identify,  in the video, as well as some ducks in the distance. It may have been colder today, but there were still plenty of signs that Winter is ending. We may get some more cold weather, and even snow, but Winter’s back is broken and it won’t be long until the wetlands and all of Northeastern Pennsylvania is enjoying the beauty of Spring. I can’t wait, since it is my favorite time  of year. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike today.

PPL Wetlands-38

“What kind of bird are you, if you can’t fly?” said he. To this the duck replied, “What kind of bird are you if you can’t swim?” and dived into the pond.
Sergei Prokofiev

PPL Wetlands-3





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A Very Early Spring At The PPL Wetlands.

The record temperature today  here in my hometown of Hazleton, Pennsylvania,  is  16 degrees below zero. That is pretty darn cold.  Although it is not that cold every year, most years we still have some snow cover, cold temperatures and ice on the ponds and lakes  in our area in late February.  Not this year. In fact, the  temperatures were  in the  low 60’s  when I hiked in the PPL Wetlands near Berwick today.PPL Wetlands-1

I arrived early at the wetlands and found many of the canals and ponds were now ice free. Some years the ice is so thick this time of year you can drive a car across it. Not this year. PPL Wetlands-2

It was overcast in the morning as I began my hike with temperatures in the mid 40’s. I had hoped to see some early migrating water fowl and I did find a few geese.PPL Wetlands wildlife -8

There were still no ducks on the waters and only a few of the year long residents such as this cardinal fluttering in the thick, leafless, underbrush.PPL Wetlands wildlife -1

I saw a few  of the always present, and friendly, black capped chickadees,PPL Wetlands wildlife -4

and quite a few nuthatches scampering in the trees. This one was feeding on young, what looked like, maple buds. PPL Wetlands wildlife -5

I also saw this bird high in a tree top and I  am not sure if it were a flicker or a red headed wood pecker. I am guessing a flicker. PPL Wetlands wildlife -7

There was still a lot of ice on the ponds that were in areas shaded from the sun. With warm weather predicted for the next few days I am hoping it will all be gone by next weekend. PPL Wetlands-23

The  strengthening sun broke through the clouds as I walked into   the adjoining  river lands, and,  not only made for some nice scenery, but also quickly warmed the air up. PPL Wetlands-27

I made my way to the Susquehanna river, which was also ice free and which was high and flowing quickly from the melting ice up stream.PPL Wetlands-33

I was surprised that I didn’t see more  wildlife in the warm sunshine only  a few squirrels, some crows and this chipmunk.PPL Wetlands wildlife -11

I walked along the river a bit and returned where I found, very early this year,  the first sure sign of spring, the skunk cabbage. There were some growing during the warm spell we had in early January but I didn’t see them again until today. PPL Wetlands-6

There were still many of the old dead plants from last years  growing season.PPL Wetlands-25

and a few new hardy plants thriving in the warm temperatures we had this year. PPL Wetlands-17

As I returned to my car, the sun had warmed the air and the temperatures were in the low 60’s  As I walked I heard something in the brush near my feet and, looking down was surprised to find this critter on the ground. PPL Wetlands wildlife -17

I never saw a snake here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this early before, in fact I don’t remember seeing one until May. This fellow was sluggish, but did manage to crawl away before I could get some good photographs. PPL Wetlands wildlife -18

And I was in for another surprise. I found this turtle sunning himself on a log. Again, the  earliest I have seen one before was mid to late April.  Turtles and snakes in February, If you told me this a week ago, and if I hadn’t seen them with my own eyes I would never have believed it. Here is a link to some more photographs of the snake and other critters I saw today. Wetlands-41

There is no guarantee this warm weather will last, we have had frigid temperatures and blizzards here in March and heavy snow and freezes in April. but every day like today in February is a blessing and it is looking like we will be blessed fro another week. No complaints from this guy. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the wetlands this morning. Wetlands-38

Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God. George Washington CarverPPL Wetlands wildlife -14



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Snow And A Snow Moon In The Mountain View Cemetery

Well,  Winter returned to Northeastern Pennsylvania today.  It has been a mild, and pretty much snow free, Winter so far this year  but about four to six inches of snow fell today.  And, after the snow ended, a strong northwesterly wind brought in some clearing, and  frigid  temperatures.   Mountain View Cemetery -1

I am not a big fan of snow anymore. I don’t like walking in it. However, the brilliant sunshine that we had this afternoon, and the new snowfall, persuaded me to take my camera on my walk after work and I headed to the nearby Mountain View Cemetery. Mountain View Cemetery -4

I have been visiting this cemetery for many years. My mom would take my siblings and I  for walks here for as long as I can remember, during the Summer months. It has  many different species of trees and is beautiful in all seasons, including the Winter, especially after a newly fallen snow. Mountain View Cemetery -15

I walk here everyday now,  to visit my dad, since he was buried here over three years ago.  Mountain View Cemetery -20

It is a peaceful place and I often sit here on this bench and reflect on my many wonderful memories of dad. It was windy and 20 degrees this afternoon so I wasn’t going to sit in the cold but just said hello. Mountain View Cemetery -19

I walked through  the cemetery  , having become familiar with many of the tomb stones, trees and mausoleum, and enjoyed them now that they were covered in the fresh, powdery snow. Mountain View Cemetery -28

I left the cemetery to visit my mom, who lives a few blocks away. After my visit I returned to my home and found I found i had a few visitors at the deer block I put out. Mountain View Cemetery moon -1

I watched the deer for  a while and decided to walk back to the cemetery and watch the almost full snow moon rising in the east. Mountain View Cemetery moon -16

It was cold and windy, the temperatures dropped into the mid teens, but I enjoyed watching the moon peek in and out of the clouds in the cold, but peaceful twilight in the cemetery. Mountain View Cemetery moon -6

I also observed my favorite planet, Venus, shining brilliantly in the western sky. Mountain View Cemetery moon -13

I would have stayed out here , despite the cold and wind, but my observations of the moon, planets and stars was ended by an increasing cloud cover. I have to say, I really didn’t mind the return of winter today, but I am glad the forecast ic calling for the return of milder weather this weekend. And I  am still looking forward to Spring which is only 39 days away., not that I am counting,  Here is a link to some more photographs from my walks this afternoon and evening. View Cemetery moon -14

The wastes of snow on the hill were ghostly in the . The stars were piercingly bright.” 

Maud Hart Lovelace


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A Cloudy January Hike In The PPL Wetlands.

Although it had gotten colder this weekend here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, temperatures dropped into the 20’s, it was still above average and the the mild weather we have had so far this winter was evident during my hike in  the PPL Wetlands yesterday. PPL Wetlands -3

It was cloudy when I left my house, and I encountered a snow squall that whitened the roads atop the mountains  making my drive to the PPL Wetlands a bit difficult. However, when I neared the wetlands, at a much lower elevation, it was only cloudy and there was no snow on the ground.  I was surprised to find that almost all of the ponds and  canals PPL Wetlands -5were ice free. 

I have been visiting these wetlands for about seven years now and there was always ice on the waterways in January,  February and some years even in March. Not this year.  It seemed more like a day in early November or late March than the end of January.  PPL Wetlands -2

I walked the familiar paths, which, even though it has been mild, still were devoid of the many sounds of life that fill the air in the warmer months. Gone are the sounds of the insects buzzing, the song birds singing, and the frogs croaking. For the first mile I didn’t hear a sound until I ran into a flock of bluebirds, These pretty birds brave the cold and remain here for the winter. PPL Wetlands -1

The temperature remained around freezing, not bad for January in these parts. In fact, some of the fern species were still green and very much alive. PPL Wetlands -21

As was some patches of duckweed on the open waters, a rarity this time of year. PPL Wetlands -6

And there were still a lot of plants living in the middle of winter,  I am not sure what type of plant this is,  but, again it is not often you seen green plants in January in Northeastern Pennsylvania.PPL Wetlands -25

I walked from the wetlands to the river lands  and saw no animals and only a few birds.  I  was surprised, as I walked along the ice free waters of Lake  Took-A-While, to see a flock of geese on the waters.  I have not seen them in this area this time of year before. PPL Wetlands -19

On my return walk I also ran into the usual winter residents, two species of birds who seem to like to flock together, and flutter in the dense vegetation along the trails, the dark eyed or northern junco. PPL Wetlands -28

and the white throated sparrow.  PPL Wetlands -29

And high in the tree tops I saw this woodpecker looking for some insects in the tree bark. I am not sure if it were a hairy or a downy woodpecker. PPL Wetlands -22

I also found this tree which was visited by a woodpecker recently.  Judging from the size of the holes it may have been done by the larger, and beautiful pileated woodpecker. PPL Wetlands -18

The mild weather we have had also could be seen as I walked along the Susquehanna River.  On my last visit  ice had formed on the river and  floated downstream. Yesterday the river was completely ice free. I remember some year the river was frozen solid this time of year. PPL Wetlands -33

As I returned to my car, I hoped that the warm weather we have had continues. Even though the flowers, leaves and wildlife of the warm months are gone, it is still nice walking in these wooded wetlands in January without  having to trudge through knee deep snow. But I also remember many years were both February and March brought lots of snow and sub zero temperatures. I sure do hope this years isn’t one of them . Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike yesterday. Wetlands -2

“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you ….. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.” –  Ruth StoutPPL Wetlands -14







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